Special Geneva Climate Vulnerable Forum Event on Human Rights and Climate Change in Conjunction with UNFCCC SB42 in Bonn
The special event follows a Joint Statement on Friday 5 June 2015 from the UN Special Procedures drawing attention to the CVF-commissioned report on climate change and human rights submitted to the UNFCCC ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference at Bonn, Germany (1-12 June 2015)
Geneva, Switzerland, 10 June 2015 – Press Release
Climate vulnerable states and civil society experts called today world leaders to seize the opportunity of COP21 in Paris to reinforce the protection and fulfillment of human rights.
The Climate Vulnerable Forum, with Costa Rica as the host, brought together today leading states involved in the UN Human Rights Council and the UN climate change negotiations (UNFCCC) alongside experts on international environmental law in an event co-organized with Universal Rights Group and the Mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights and the Environment. The participants discussed how human rights ties to the 2 degrees temperature goal, which COP21 must decide whether to retain or reinforce in December, emphasizing that more ambitious outcomes from the Paris negotiations would promote greater enjoyment of fundamental human rights.
Leading the discussions, the representative of Costa Rica as host stated that: “Paris is a tremendous opportunity for the international community to reinforce the enjoyment of a wide range of fundamental human rights that are already being affected by the impact of climate change. COP21 provides us a unique chance to step up the global response to the historic challenge of climate change. Greater ambition in Paris, by strengthening the 2 degrees goal, would strengthen the protection of human rights globally.”
The declaration is supported by the report prepared by John Knox, Special Rapporteur for Human Rights and the Environment, on “The Effects of Climate Change on the Full Enjoyment of Human Rights”. The report highlights the adverse implications of the current international 2 degrees goal and was submitted as a formal input to the UNFCCC just prior to the Bonn session by the Climate Vulnerable Forum. It is being currently discussed in Bonn in the context of the periodic review of the adequacy of the 2 degrees goal.
Read the report led by John Knox, UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights and the Environment (pdf, 0.3mb)
For Professor Knox: “Even a two degree increase in temperature would have a grave effect on the enjoyment of a wide range of human rights, including rights to life and health, and make it more difficult for countries to fulfill their obligations under international law to protect human rights from harm.”
“COP21 in Paris is one of the most important human rights conferences ever held. The UN has repeatedly recognized that climate change has serious negative implications for a range of internationally-protected human rights, especially for people living in already vulnerable situations. An ambitious Paris agreement therefore has the potential to make a major contribution to the full enjoyment of human rights for billions of people around the world, as well as for future generations. Failure to check global warming, on the other hand, will consign a large proportion of the population to a more difficult and dangerous future” added Executive Director of Universal Rights Group, Mr. Marc Limon.
The meeting also spotlighted the February 2015 “Geneva Pledge for Human Rights in Climate Action”, which has been adopted by 20 states and represents a commitment to ensure that the UNFCCC and climate change policies are informed by human rights perspectives. The UN Special Procedures report on climate change and human rights represents a first initiative by States to ensure formal consideration of human rights in the context of a key UNFCCC decision.
Photo: Death Valley, US (2008) – source: marco isler via flickr – license: CC BY-ND 2.0